What Are Vegetarian Enchiladas?

A.E. Freeman
A.E. Freeman
Vegetarian meat crumbles are made of textured vegetable protein.
Vegetarian meat crumbles are made of textured vegetable protein.

Vegetarian enchiladas replace the meat found in traditional enchiladas with vegetables or beans. Some vegetarian enchiladas use only cheese in the filling. The tortillas used in vegetarian enchiladas are made of corn, and the dish usually is topped with a chili-based sauce. Some enchilada recipes use a red sauce, and others use a green sauce. The dish can be baked or served as is.

There are many recipes for vegetarian enchiladas. Some recipes call for a range of vegetables, such as onion, pepper and summer squash. The vegetables are sautéed together with oil until they are cooked through. Other vegetarian enchilada recipes call for beans, such as black or pinto beans.

The tortillas used in enchilada recipes are traditionally made from corn flour, though some cooks might prefer to use wheat flour tortillas. Usually, a cook will heat the tortillas gently to soften them enough to be rolled into cigar shapes. Sometimes, the tortilla is dipped in the enchilada sauce before being rolled.

When making vegetarian enchiladas, the cook places a small amount of the vegetable or bean filling in the center of the warmed or sauce-dipped tortilla. He or she then rolls the tortilla, encasing the filling inside it. Sometimes, cheese is added along with the beans and vegetables or is used by itself. The filled tortillas are placed in a dish with the seam side down so that they do not unfurl.

After the enchiladas are filled, they usually are topped with more sauce. A red enchilada sauce usually is made from ground chili peppers, although some sauces are tomato-based. A green enchilada sauce can be made from tomatillos, or it can be made from green chili peppers and other green ingredients, such as spinach or cilantro, depending on the recipe. Some enchilada sauces are more like a gravy in consistency and are prepared by first making a roux with flour and butter or oil.

Some vegetarian enchiladas are topped with grated cheese such as Monterey Jack or cheddar after being rolled and placed in a dish. Cojita cheese and queso anejo are two cheeses commonly used on enchiladas in Mexico. The cheeses are aged and usually are crumbled into the filling or over top of the enchiladas.

The enchiladas typically are baked in an oven until the cheese has melted. Not all enchiladas need to be baked, though. Some are simply filled with cheese or other vegetarian filling and rolled up, then eaten without additional heating.

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Discussion Comments


If you are serving vegetarian enchiladas, it is really easy to make a vegetarian enchilada sauce to go along with them.

Most of the ingredients in the sauce are already vegetarian or vegan, so you should have no trouble pleasing those who are.

It really only takes a few minutes to whip up your own sauce, and it tastes so much better than what you buy in a can.

I make a sauce that includes spices such as chili powder, cumin, garlic powder, onion powder and some cayenne pepper. A good sauce really helps top off a great recipe.


@honeybees - I have frozen enchiladas with good success and they have not been soggy. I will usually warm them up in the oven until everything is heated through.

I make some easy vegetarian enchiladas that use black beans instead of refried beans. That is really just a matter of personal preference.

For extra protein you can add some tofu and I like to fill mine as full as possible with onions, carrots and zucchini. They don't taste quite like a traditional enchilada, but they are good and very healthy for you.

I have also made these with a vegan soy cheese when I wanted to include some kind of cheese. Even my husband who is a big meat eater will eat these when I make them. He still prefers his with beef and chicken, but at least he will eat them without complaining.


Can you make something like vegetarian enchiladas in advance and freeze them? I am wondering if they would taste OK or would they be soggy?

I have some family coming to stay for an extended period and I am trying to think of some meals I can make up ahead of time and put in the freezer.

My brother is a vegetarian, and I thought it would be easy to make half of the enchiladas with meat and half with beans.

I also thought about substituting some vegetable enchiladas for the beans for something different.

I really like plain cheese enchiladas, but often feel bad after eating that much cheese and want to find some way to add extra protein and cut back on all that cheese.


We've found that's not all or nothing with enchiladas. We liked the beef kind (no one wants to use that much cheese in home cooking) but we wanted to cut down on our red meat.

So now, instead of using a pound of ground beef, we use just half a pound and combine it with a whole can of fat-free refried beans. So much healthier, and just as tasty! It also works for making beef tacos and and burritos.

Make sure to look for fat-free or vegetarian refried beans if your goal is to make healthy or vegetarian enchiladas. "Traditional" refried beans usually contain lard! *Not* healthy, and definitely not vegetarian!

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    • Vegetarian meat crumbles are made of textured vegetable protein.
      Vegetarian meat crumbles are made of textured vegetable protein.